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NZ – European Union Ties More Critical Than Ever

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Your Excellency Ambassador Meredith,

Members of the Diplomatic Corps and Ambassadors from European Union Member States,

Ministerial colleagues, Members of Parliament, and other distinguished guests,

Thank you everyone for joining us.

Ladies and gentlemen -

In diplomacy, we often speak of ‘close’ and ‘long-standing’ relations.

We speak of ‘people-to-people links’.

And – much to our irritation – we speak of ‘broadening and deepening’ relations.

But in reflecting on New Zealand’s relationship - our partnership - with the European Union, it is clear that these diplomatic cliches truly do ring true.

We hold similar world views.

We have a shared commitment to fundamental values.

To human rights.

To democracy.

And to the rule of law.

There are many who don’t understand that there is an element called the ‘romance and glamour of great ideas’ in politics.

Human rights, democracy, and the rule of law are exactly what we’re talking about.

This values-based partnership is key to our ability to respond to the challenges we face today.

Challenges that are stark – as we said last week - the worst that anyone today working in politics and foreign affairs can remember.

We stand together in tackling these challenges.

In the Indo-Pacific, our mutual support for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is important to ensure the continued security and prosperity of the region.

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In the Pacific, we both take a Pacific-led approach that respects existing regional architecture, helping to ensure a stable, secure, and resilient region where our closest neighbours can prosper.

We also stand with the EU as it tackles challenges in its own region, such as Russia’s ongoing illegal war of aggression against Ukraine.

The invasion of Ukraine illustrates Russia’s outright disregard for international law and has once more brought war to the European continent.

We commend the EU for its critical leadership role in supporting Ukraine’s self-defence and national resilience.

New Zealand continues to join the EU and other partners in our steadfast support of Ukraine.

Ladies and gentlemen,

One week ago - on 1 May - we celebrated the entry into force of the New Zealand - EU Free Trade Agreement.

An agreement that reflects the shared values that underpin our broader relationship.

The Coalition Government plans to significantly accelerate the value of New Zealand’s exports over the next ten years.

Full implementation of the FTA will be an important part of these efforts.

It is already delivering tariff savings, and it offers new markets for exporters and better opportunities for investors.

To conclude - on this special occasion of Europe Day - let us celebrate New Zealand’s relationship with the European Union.

And let us reaffirm our joint commitment to further deepen our partnership at a time when friends really matter.

© Scoop Media

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